Customer relationship management projects (CRM) have a higher failure rate than other types of software implementation projects for several reasons:

  1. Project goals are not always clear
  2. The CRM software isn’t seen as adding value to the sales process
  3. The CRM software isn’t connected to ERP or other line of business systems

Of course, those are just the top three issues; the “tip of the iceberg” that sink CRM projects. To successfully navigate your way to success, follow these 7 CRM project best practices.

1. Set clear goals

Why are you implementing a CRM system? What is the problem you are trying to solve? CRM software can be used to:

  • Manage sales opportunities
  • Accelerate the sales process
  • Improve collaboration
  • Increase client engagement
  • Resolve customer support cases
  • Automate your marketing process
  • Manage inventory and resources
  • Provide accountability
  • Create a central client knowledge repository
  • ….and the list goes on.

Be specific. Articulating exactly why you are implementing CRM software will save you needless steps. Be ruthless about staying focused on your priorities, so you can avoid costly scope creep. You can always create a second project to accommodate those special requests.

2. Show the value

Especially when you are implementing a sales management CRM system, users need to understand why using the CRM solution is so important. Many sales people work independently and resist management controls. Help them understand what benefit THEY will gain from using CRM, in addition to how the organization will benefit.

3. Get leadership buy-in

Your CRM implementation will be vastly more successful if the leadership team is also using the CRM system, using the data, and evangelizing use of the system. Steps 4-7 are ways that the business leaders can put their CRM evangelism into action.

4. Provide adequate training

CRM training often gets cut from the project budget in effort to save money. While eliminating training may cut a line item from the budget, the organization may see lots of “hidden losses” – time spent researching how to do things, information entered incorrectly that requires data clean up, and people not using the system in a way that will help you achieve your business objectives.

5. Simplify the processes

The purpose of the CRM system is to save time, not take extra steps.  Think about the user’s experience. The more intuitive your processes are, and the more time it saves your users, the more likely they are to use the system.  Build out automations and workflows. Help each individual do their job more efficiently and effectively.

6. Link to ERP and other LOB systems

One major advantage of Dynamics 365 for Sales, Marketing  and Customer Engagement is its integration with Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations. Think through your customer’s experience from end-to-end. Can you have closed sales opportunities trigger the creation of a bill of materials and the procurement of raw materials? For customers running SAP, we even have a SAP-CRM integration solution.

7. Add incentives for CRM use

In the beginning, it’s important to reward user adoption. Many clients tie CRM use into their user’s MBOs (management by objectives), and use it as part of the employee’s performance review. We have an entire business team focused on change management best practices, which we believe should be built-into all projects.

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Author: Janet Thomas, CRM Senior Solution Architect

Adam Jenkins

Author Adam Jenkins

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